Most homeowners respond to a plumbing emergency the way they do to any crisis – they hit the panic button.
Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash
Such emergencies are in the same category as serious accidents, they’re unexpected, inconvenient and require immediate attention.
What homeowners need in such a predicament is a convenient troubleshooting guide.
So let’s take a look at what causes plumbing emergencies and sensible steps you can take to remedy them.
What Causes Plumbing Emergencies?
So what are the most common causes of plumbing emergencies at home?
The relatively high water pressure that delivers fresh water throughout the home is the main culprit.
The same pressure that sends water to a showerhead or a lawn sprinkler also forces water through a leaky tap or a faulty pipe.
What you are pouring down your drains can be a cause of problems, but it could also be the habits of previous residents of your property. The damage may have already been done before you arrived.
You may also be the victim of shoddy installation or repairs.
When it comes to drainage, which is the wastewater leaving your home, the force of gravity may not be enough to draw the water through drains clogged by debris.
Blocked drains means the water doesn’t leave and it eventually ends up in your home or your outdoor area.
The Cost of Ignorance
Even if a plumbing fault doesn’t appear to be an emergency, there can be a price to pay if it’s ignored.
Gradual leakage can lead to long-term water damage, health problems through excessive humidity and the development of mould and mildew around the home.
Up to 20,000 litres of water per year can be wasted by a dripping tap, which can happen in any wet area. Just think about those additional water bills – up to $200 a year in some cases.
And an annoying drip can become a flowing stream that escalates to emergency status.
Where Plumbing Emergencies Happen
Plumbing crises happen wherever there are taps, pipes and water – which means the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and outside where there are garden taps and irrigation systems.
Perhaps the worst area to cope with is the toilet. The mental imagery alone is an unpleasant thought. The reality of a clogged, overflowing toilet is even worse.
But there are plenty of other emergencies – constantly leaking taps and burst pipes, dripping appliances (like a water heater or dishwasher), a defective hot water service or outlets being submerged in water – that can be just as urgent to attend to.
Taking Action in a Plumbing Crisis
Calling a professional plumber in an emergency situation is probably the most logical step.
They have the knowledge and modern equipment to cope with most calamities, particularly when it could be dangerous.
Here are a few basics to consider before the crisis hits:
- Do do you know where your water shut-off valve is? If you’re not sure, ask your plumber so that you’re better informed in future.
- Be careful if you’re dealing with water near electrical appliances that are submerged – always turn off the power before doing so.
- If you have a gas heater, do you know how to relight the pilot light? Remember that the process of relighting a pilot light is different for each brand and model.
- Sewer and gas odours are potentially dangerous and you may have to leave the home.
While your quick actions can help in de-escalating a plumbing emergency, most repairs require the expertise of a professional.
Keep that in mind when a slow drip becomes a torrent.